Transforming History into Lolo’s Surf Cantina

Building out Lolo’s Surf Cantina located inside the Marriott Stanton South Beach provided us the opportunity to do what we love best: breathing new life into amazing historic buildings.

Turning a portion of the Marriott Stanton into Lolo’s – a bistro serving inspired Mexican cuisine – was an experience that enriched our team’s craftsmanship.

Lolo’s is a concept by Plan Do See, a global hospitality brand based in Japan, and Richard Ampudia, the renowned “Godfather of Mexican Street Food.” Ampudia has made his mark in many popular NYC restaurants over the years such as La Esquina, Café Habana, and Bar Bruno.

As the general contractor, we were entrusted to transform the space into a Baja-Style, Mexican eatery while preserving a historic three-story building.

Our previous work renovating and repositioning the hotel helped us to create the blueprint for building out Lolo’s, which required a phased demolition process. We demolished everything in the interior of the property and were able to preserve the perimeter walls. At that stage, you could look up three stories and glimpse the sky.

The repositioning of the historic property required a sequential floor-by-floor rebuilding of the building’s skeletal system to accommodate two new full-service restaurants – including Lolo’s – and other amenities, including a new spa, gym, public restrooms and other guest features for the existing hotel. Those features were required to complement the newly remodeled lobby, meeting rooms, two pools decks and other amenities SPACiO had previously renovated. Due to the building’s designation as a historic building, we also worked diligently with the City of Miami Beach to protect the historic façade.

We couldn’t have accomplished our goals without our team’s vast wealth of construction knowledge, commitment to quality and ability to quickly meet the final inspections. It was our honor to transform the Lolo’s concept into a reality and deliver a top-notch Mexican eatery to Miami Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood.

Stay tuned as we are building out additional restaurants at the Marriott Stanton South Beach (a secret sushi restaurant and an American bistro). Names will be revealed soon! Be the first to know by following us on all of our social media channels.

Renowned Architect Rafael Viñoly Tells It All

World-renowned Architect Rafael Viñoly, who designed One River Point on the Miami River, spoke to the Wall Street Journal about growing up in Argentina and the path that led him to become a celebrated architect. The 386-unit One River Point, being developed by Shahab Karmely’s KAR Properties, represents Viñoly’s entrance to the Miami real estate market.

In the WSJ article, Viñoly talks about his native Montevideo, Uruguay, and his family moving to Buenos Aires when he was a young child.


When I was 5, my family moved to Buenos Aires. My father, Román, had been invited to direct Wagner’s “Die Walküre” at the Teatro Colón, one of the world’s finest opera houses. He then became active in theater, before being lured into the country’s emerging film industry as a writer and director.

 Our house in Buenos Aires was a new and a fairly conventional single-family home in the city’s northern suburbs. It was an up-and-coming and largely sparse area about 40 minutes by train from the city center.

 The two-story redbrick house had a pitched roof in a Spanish style and you entered through the porch that faced the street. Inside, there was a small office at the top of the stairs where my father worked and had meetings.

 My younger sister, Ana Maria, had her own bedroom in the back facing a pretty little garden. Between her room and my parents’ bedroom was the room I shared with my older brother, Daniel. It was spare: two beds and a large armoire.

My mother, Nene, had studied architecture for a time, but she quit to make a living as a math teacher. She decorated our house with forward-looking modernist furniture from Brazil, although she mixed in traditional pieces.

 My family wasn’t well off. The film industry was unpredictable. As a result, my parents always had financial difficulties.

 At home, my father was the outgoing and overly expressive one while my mother was the opposite. It wasn’t the steadiest environment to grow up in, but they loved their children and always put us first.

 My mother’s parents both died when she was about 8. The inheritance was mismanaged, and my mother and her siblings were sent to a convent. From an early age, my mother and her sister worked as private tutors in math and science. They were known as smart and gifted teachers.

 My father also came from a poor background. He left home as a teenager to follow a travelling circus and returned a theater person. As a result, he was always emotional and, essentially, a dreamer.

 When my brother and sister and I were kids, my father’s way of “talking” to us was in writing. Every Friday night we’d go to bed and find a hand-written letter under our pillows. On Saturday, we’d discuss them together in his office. Those sessions were a theatrical event and often made me feel as if we were on trial. I still have some of those letters, a trace of my father’s soul and his love.

 Perhaps the most significant turning point for me as a child came when I was 5. My father, a music buff, found a fantastic piano teacher who was an émigré from a sophisticated family in Florence. As in many cases with a music teacher like this, I learned many more things than just how to play. She introduced me to philosophy and the contemporary arts of the 1950s and ’60s.

 Drawing came naturally to me. Someone saw my drawings and recommended me to an architecture firm. I started working as an architect at 17, even before entering the university. Today, my wife, Diana, and I live in Manhattan’s Tribeca area.

The Real Deal: A sit-down with Alexander Wertheim: Spacio founder on his business, SoFla’s construction challenges & more

“You’ve got guys that show up today, and three weeks later, they’re gone.”March 23, 2017 10:30AM
By Doreen Hemlock

Alexander Wertheim is founder and president of Spacio Design Build, a general contracting firm with clients such as Nobu Miami Beach, the Related Group and the Marriott Stanton South Beach. A former pro tennis player on the ATP whose coaching gig got him into the construction and property management business, Wertheim now oversees a firm of about 20 employees with revenues of about $20 million.

Wertheim spoke with The Real Deal about building a business, challenges facing South Florida contractors and the latest construction trends.

“I’m a guy who believes you go with the curve,” said the 45-year-old Miami native. “You have to adapt.”

(This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)

Q. How did you get into the construction business?

After retiring from professional tennis, I coached. One of the guys I was coaching owned 30,000 apartments across the United States. I was up at his house one day and said, “I need a career.” So he hired me. He started to buy in Florida in the early 1990s. He bought a couple thousand units in west Fort Lauderdale and offered me a job there as a social director. So now, I’m doing bingo, fitness at the swimming pool, handing out bagels…I looked at it like school. I was there six months and stuck my nose everywhere. I found out what the property manager did, the leasing agent, the superintendent, the sprinkler guy, everything. Then, he says to me, “Do you want to move to Connecticut and be my son’s right-hand man?” I left the following week. I was 23 years old, director of operations of a company with 52 employees, about 10,000 apartments, half a million square feet of industrial space and four condo associations.

I learned construction, punch-out work, leasing and managing apartments, budgets, due diligence on new buys. Later, I went out on my own. With a partner, we did a bunch of condo conversions, and then, I came up with the current concept.

Q. When and why did you start Spacio?

We started in Coral Springs in 2007 to go after homeowners who wanted basic renovations. We built a beautiful showroom, and the recession came, so we went lean, down to my partner and myself. Back then, you’d call me and say, “I have a dry-wall repair,” and I’d be there.

After the recession hit, we landed our first building in downtown Miami, the Ivy. The majority of developer units are what they call “decorator-ready,” with a finished kitchen and finished bathroom. But if someone wants to move in, you need to do the floor and baseboards, window coverings, painting, closets and lighting. We came in and did those upgrades on more than 400 units.

From that, we went across the street to The Mint and changed our business model. We opened up a design center to offer a turnkey package, a one-stop shop. We did construction and even worked with furniture providers if you wanted. Mint was 532 units. Our average ticket at Ivy was $10,000, and at Mint, about $30,000. So, we ended up doing seven other buildings at the same time. We became known as the condo contractor.

Then, we landed Paramount Bay in Edgewater, and those units had $80,000 to $100,000 tickets. Next, we did 224 rooms at the Stanton South Beach Marriott. That was our first big commercial project.

Q. How much business did you do last year, and what do you project for this year?

Last year, about $20 million. This year, I have almost $14 million on the books, and it’s only March. So, it should be more.

Q. Tell us about some key projects.

We just finished Eden Roc Nobu, which is a hotel within a hotel. We took the existing restaurant, gutted it and added about 3,000 square feet of exterior space to make the largest Nobu in the world. We also did the lobby, common areas and the hotel rooms – around 150. At the Marriott Stanton at 161 Ocean Drive, we started out with the rooms, then common areas, the front and façade, the entrance, lobby. Because they couldn’t build new, we literally had to rebuild the entire structure from the inside outside, including the roof – all with the hotel in operation.

Q. What is the biggest challenge you face as a contractor in South Florida?

The workforce here. It’s laid-back, and that makes things take longer. And it’s very transient. You’ve got guys that show up today, and three weeks later, they’re gone. You hear a lot of horror stories. We’re very careful about the subcontractors we work with and develop long-term relationships with them.

Q. What trends do you see in construction in Miami?

One is incorporating exterior space into the interior. People are adding collapsible window-doors that open to one side to bring exterior space inside. You’re seeing this in homes, restaurants and hotels, because so many people love to be outside. In houses, people are putting bars, kitchens, TV rooms, sitting areas and fire pits outside to continue the experience of their great-rooms inside. It makes the space seem bigger and more welcoming.


SPACiO Design Build Tapped to Renovate and Build Out Massive Warehouse in Little Haiti

SPACiO Design Build has been selected by Innerspace Custom Closet Storage Solutions to renovate and build out a 24,000 square foot warehouse in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Little Haiti. Innerspace, a premiere designer of organized closet systems in South Florida that is relocating from Wynwood, is a perfect example of the quality of businesses that are choosing Little Haiti as their new Home.

The build-out of the space includes a 5,200 square foot interior office and a unique showroom, which requires reinforcing the existing structure to withhold new loads for Innerspace to move in next month. The repositioned structure is a perfect example of the successful re-use of an older building prime for redevelopment in an emerging neighborhood, which is attracting new businesses to the area.

“It’s exciting to be part of Little Haiti’s transformation, helping to turn visions into reality through quality craftsmanship,” said Alex Wertheim, president of SPACiO Design Builds. “We’re looking forward to working more in the area as it begins to develop into one of Miami’s hottest neighborhoods.”

For more information, contact: Jessica Forres, 202-716-8320 or

 About Spacio Design Build

SPACiO Design Build is a full-service general contractor with preeminent expertise in high-end commercial and residential projects. The Miami-based company was founded by Alexander Wertheim and has build-out some of Miami’s most iconic projects, including high-end restaurants, luxury condos and boutique hotels. With more than two decades of experience in the construction and design industry, the SPACiO team is renowned for its high-quality craftsmanship, professionalism, leadership and proactive communication with clients.

If I Knew Then…


In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy. See the article featured in Crain’s Miami here.

By: NicoleMartinez |@niki_frsh

The Mistake:

I was getting a lot of new business continuously and not focusing on my past clients as an added source of revenue.

When I first got started, I was letting the business run me, instead of me running the business. One of my most common mistakes was that I would land a client, and this would happen especially with some of my bigger clients, and I would do the job and just move on after that. I wouldn’t necessarily continue maintaining a relationship with them, whether that meant through person-to-person contacts, e-mail marketing or regular follow-up phone calls and meetings to see how they were enjoying the new space.

In the construction business, you’re only as good as your last job. In my space, you have huge general contracting firms and those guys have a pipeline for years of work. A firm our size, however, doesn’t have a tremendous pipeline, so you’re always working on trying to get that next job.

Over dinner with other business partners one night, one of them had mentioned to me that it seemed like I was not focusing enough on my existing clients. He said that I needed to keep extracting them for additional work.

“The majority of my clients that I have today are friends, because I do maintain monthly contact, whether that’s something as simple as a phone call.”

The Lesson:

Throughout the years I’ve learned and we’ve grown tremendously from taking our clients and extracting them for additional business. So if you’re not following up continuously and reminding them about who you are and what you do, they forget about you.

It doesn’t just stop at traditional marketing initiatives. Whenever I meet a client I try and figure out what they like to do. For instance, I take my clients to play golf, dine with them, or take them fishing. We become friends. The majority of my clients that I have today are friends, because I do maintain monthly contact, whether that’s something as simple as a phone call. I try and stay on top of their business, and at the top of their mind, and that’s become a failsafe way to continue having lasting business relationships that allow my own business to grow.

This approach, coupled with quality craftsmanship, has helped SPACiO grow from $9 million in 2014 to nearly $20 million in 2016.

Follow SPACiO Design Build on Twitter @spaciodb.